Sunday, 6 September 2015

Turkish Food


Nutty, syrupy, pastry dessert is never better than when served in Turkey. Often topped in ground pistachios, baklava is sweet and unique, and should be eaten fresh!

Adana kebab

Adana Kebab is spicy minced meat from Turkey named after Adana, the fifth largest city in Turkey. It is originally known as kıyma (keema) kebab (minced meat kebab) or simply as kıyma in Adana. The word kabab (کباب) is ultimately from Arabic or Persian but originally meant fried meat, not grilled meat. Many people are more familiar with a şiş (pronounced shish) kebab, as şiş means skewer, but this recipe does not require skewers, although traditionally a wide skewer that is 3 feet (0.9 m) long (80-90 cm) and about an inch wide (2.0-2.5 cm) can be used, if desired. Usually ayran (a diluted yogurt drink), or şalgam (turnip juice), is served as a beverage with it. However, raki, (anise based Turkish hard liquor drink), is frequently served. An alternative is to serve it as a roll (dürüm also known as sokum); the meat and the vegetables are rolled in a pide bread. This is more of a fast food type of serving although the vegetables and meat are all prepared fresh. How to make Adana kebab?

Bici bici

Bici Bici is a local desert, served on the street as not many still make this at home. It is nice and refreshing on a hot day. It is a basic firm pudding squares in a rose flavored syrup.


Sarmas are stuffed grape leaves. They are the ultimate finger food and are often served as a side dish with a dot of yoghurt.


It's similar to Greek ouzo and French pastis.

When mixed with ice and/or water for drinking, it turns milky white. Because of its color and hefty alcoholic punch, Turks call it lion's milk (aslan sütü).

If you like licorice and anise, you may like rakı. If you don't, for sure you won't.

Some rakı factories are located near İzmir to take advantage of its abundant, high-quality grapes, raisins, anise and sakız (mastic, pine gum), which is added to some brands.

Romanian Dishes

1. Smoked bacon – “Slănina afumată”

Smoked bacon is made from the fat found either in the abdominal area or on the back of a pig. In various regions of the country, bacon is flavored in various ways with garlic, paprika, pepper and other spices, but the most widely used flavoring method, which also acts as a preserver, is the smoking process.
2. Cabbage rolls – “Sarmale”

Cabbage rolls are made of ground meat (usually pork, but also beef, sheep, poultry, or even fish) mixed with rice and other ingredients and rolled into cabbage leaves. In some regions cabbage rolls are served with cooked corn meal and sour cream. This specialty is known under the same name “sarmale” in Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Greece and the Republic of Moldova as well.
3. Corn meal with salty cheese and sour cream – “Mămăligă cu brânză și smântână”

“Mămăligă” is the name of a food made from boiled corn meal similar to polenta. Traditionally, cornmeal is used to be cooked in salty water in a cast iron cauldron. Layers of cheese added to the cooked cornmeal and a sour cream topping make this specialty a delicious entrée or side dish.
4. Bean soup with hocks – “Ciorba de fasole cu ciolan”

Bean soup is one of the core foods in Romanian cuisine, even though there are noticeable differences in the way it is prepared in various regions. In the South, bean soup is prepared with several kinds of vegetables added; in Moldova it is flavored with dill or tarragon; in Transylvania, it is thickened with flour cooked in oil and with sour cream, with some vinegar added to it. Despite the differences, however, bean soup remains a national treasure.
5. Cabbage a la Cluj – “Varză a la Cluj”

Even though cabbage a la Cluj is simply considered “messed up cabbage rolls” by many, this prejudice is not entirely true. This food is traditional in Transylvania, but has become very popular in other regions as well.

Dishes in Poland

Polska kielbasa i wedliny • Polish sausages and charcuterie

Kielbasa is very well-known product from Central and Easter Europe. In general kielbasa is made from pork and some special spices. Many kinds of sausages exist – both in terms of composition, appearance, as well as way of processing. E.g. smoked and dried sausages are very popular in Poland and considered exclusive. The easy way to recognize good quality sausage is by the amount of meat used for the production (usually producers are supposed to inform you about this on the package).

Poles also love their coldcut, which is offered in a great variety in Polish butcher's ('sklep miesny' which means 'meat shop'). Coldcuts are an everyday staple as far as appetizers go. It is eaten with bread, as sandwiches, when one wants to eat something fast, easy and ordinary.

Twarozek is made of white cheese (curd cheese) mixed with chives, radish, cream and spices ('spicy twarozek') or with sugar, fruit and/or jam ('sweet twarozek'). In Poland this is a popular ingredient for breakfast sandwiches.

Photo on the left shows one of my favorite 'spring breakfasts' – twarozek with chives, dill, pepper and a pinch of ginger. I eat it with thin, dry, smoked, Polish sausage called 'kabanos' (it looks like pepperoni, but in my humble opinion, it tastes much better). On the right you can see sweet twarozek simply made by mixing curd cheese with a bit of milk and sugar. Served as sandwiches covered with jam. All of that is of course extremely simple to make.


Makowiec • Poppy-seed cake / loaf

Poppy-seed cake, also known as poppy seed loaf, is a traditional Polish dessert – a yeast cake stuffed with ground poppy. Some raisins, almonds or walnuts are the most typical additions. The baked cake is decorated with icing and (usually) orange peel.

In the distant times this poppy-seed cake was a traditional dessert prepared for Easter and Christmas. In the Christian tradition poppy, containing thousand of seeds in one poppy head, is a symbol of harvest and fertility. Therefore, in the past, the Poles and other Slavs believed that eating poppy-seed cake during the holidays will bring them luck in life.


Zurek or zur is a very traditional Polish soup. A distinctive feature of this exclusive food is its sour taste. However, this is not like the sour taste of lemon. Zurek is much more delicate and extremely palatable. The taste of this Polish soup comes from so-called sour leavening, originating from fermentatedrye flour and bread crumbs.

In many Polish homes zurek soup is a traditional food eaten during Easter holidays. The dish is very nutritious and quite lavish. Oftentimes, Polish zurek soup is dished up in a special hollowed out loaf of bread (see photo below). Compulsory additions to zurek soup are hard-boiled eggs and a peculiar Polish raw sausage. The sausage is called white sausage by the Poles (biala kielbasa in original) and is boiled in water before being added to zurek soup. Since the Central European region of Poland and Germany is the homeland of many kinds of sausages, white sausage is quite unknown outside borders of these countries. To sum up, both egg and Polish kielbasa are thrown into a plate with zurek soup. Smoked bacon or ribs are another popular extra. This great Polish soup is often eaten with some bread or roll. It is worthwhile mentioning that the white borscht is a closely related soup. You can find some information about it in the next paragraph.
Golabki • Polish cabbage rolls in tomato sauce

Golabki or stuffed cabbage is one of a traditional food of Central and Eastern Europe. Polish golabki is a cooked knob of forcemeat wrapped up in a leaf of a white cabbage. Important ingredients are: groats (nowadays rice is much more popular), onion and an appropriate blend of spices. Sometimes mushrooms are added to the filling. Also some other variants of the filling exist in the traditional Polish cuisine, e.g. fowl, mutton or even with no meat at all (some vegetable-based golabki, but these are less common). This Polish food is stewed or fried before eating. When laid on plates golabki are poured over with a delicious dense home-made tomato sauce. Polish cabbage rolls are eaten with bread, sometimes with boiled potatoes.

Bulgarian Food

Introduction Bulgarian cuisine
Many centuries of tradition have gone into what is now considered 'Bulgarian' cuisine - there are many influences from throughout this time, in particular the neighbouring countries of Greece and Turkey. Many of the  ingredients produced  in Bulgaria are world famous - the herbs grown here are exported all around the world, Bulgarian yoghurt (kiselo mljako) is considered by many to be the best in the world (indeed some 200,000 tons of Bulgarian yoghurt are sold in Japan every year!) and  the  organic  fruit  and  vegetables  are  legendary  ... many  of  our subscribers write to us with tales of how ‘the fruit tastes like it did when I was a child’, and this is perfectly true ... no pestisides here ... everything grown naturally and one can certainly taste the difference. 
 there are some delicous meat dishes in Bulgaria, many of the dishes are ‘meatless’ - in fact the Bulgarians eat only half the amount of meat as people  in  other  EU  countries, which  is  partly  down  to  their Orthodox beliefs where many  celebrations  require a  fasting  from meat  -  in  this respect, the country is a perfect place for vegetarians to visit ... the salads and fruits are wonderful and everyone should try to experience the open air fruit and vegetable markets on a visit here. Every month in Quest Bulgaria Magazine we feature a Bulgarian recipe, always trying to make the most of the organic vegetables. Most recipes are ‘traditional’ however, as it’s me personally who cooks these dishes every month whilst photographing them for the magazine, they have all been slightly ‘personalised’ to suit my own and Jain’s tastes! Here we have selected a few recipes from recent  issues which  include, soups,  salads,  main  dishes  (both  vegetarian  and  with  meat)  and desserts. We do hope you try some of them out ... and enjoy the results!

Are known  worldwide. Bulgaria is the fourth largest producer of medicinal herbs in the world, exporting a total of 12,000 tons per year, most of it to the European Union and the United States. Around 350,000 people are employed in the herb industry in Bulgaria. 3,000 different types of plants grow on the mountainsof Bulgaria. Over 300 of these plants are used in the pharmaceuticals industry, while 750 types are used in alternative medicine. Some of the most popular herbs are lavender, mint, thyme, chamomile, wild marjoram and St. John’s wort.

Traditional Bulgarian Recipes

A very simple and traditional Bulgarian dish ...perfect for cooling down during the warmer days!
Serves 4-6:
1 litre yoghurt (Bulgarian if possible)
2 cucumbers
Walnuts, about 10
1 cup sunflower oil
Fresh Fennel
Garlic (if you are not going out for the afternoon!)
Finely chop the walnuts and fennel (and garlic)
Grate the cucumbers (or dice if you prefer)
Combine all the ingredients, mix and serve
That’s it... enjoy!
As soon as the winter months have faded and we start to enjoy the warmer months of summer, one can’t help thinking of the fabulous Bulgarian salads - with all that wonderful fresh produce Shopska salad (shopska salata) is one the the most popular salads in Bulgaria and also my mother’s personal favourite during my parents’ many visits here to Bulgaria.

Serves 4
Tarator can be served as a starter (if so, you can add a cupful of water before serving), or makes a fabulous vegetarian main meal.

shopska salad
4 spring onions
4 medium size tomatoes
half a cucumber
2 green peppers                                                
100g of bulgarian ‘cerene’ white cheese (or feta)
chopped fresh parsley
olive oil
optional: olives

Grill the peppers until the skin starts to darken and crisp. Let cool, covered, for a few minutes. Then remove the skins and the pips.
Tip: here in Bulgaria, rather than heating the grill, the peppers are often browned on an electric hot plate. Cut them into small cubes, along with the onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. Place the prepared ingredients into a large salad bowl. Season, add chopped parsley, olive oil and mix well. Cover in grated white cheese and enjoy! If it takes your fancy, throw on a few black olives. Whilst most Bulgarians would normally accompany this with a traditional glass of rakia - I prefer a glass of chilled Bulgarian Chardonnay -Perfect!

Panagurishte poached eggs
The town after which this dish is named is Panagurishte (pronounced pan-a-gyoor-ish-te), and if you wanted to order this dish in a restaurant or bar then you would ask for‘yaitsa po  panagyuski’, but to be honest, it could possibly take longer to learn the correct pronunciation as it would to prepare the actual dish!
Poached eggs
Serves 4
8 eggs
4 soup spoons of butter
600 g of natural yoghurt (Bulgarian if possible!)

5 or 6 cloves of garlic
5 soup spoons of vinegar
2 teaspoons of paprika
One third of a teaspoon of chilli powder
Freshly chopped dill
Crush the garlic and mix this together with the yoghurt and half a coffee cup of salt. Bring a full pan of water to the boil (with salt and the vinegar). Break the eggs one by one into a bowl, then poach them in the simmering water. After three minutes of cooking, remove the eggs. In a serving bowl, place the yoghurt and then the eggs on top. Heat the butter, add paprika and the chilli powder. Mix together for a few seconds and remove from the heat. Drizzle over the poached eggs. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill and serve with a dry white wine and fresh crusty bread for a delicious and quick meal.

Bulgarian Sarmi are leaves of various kinds, stuffed with a mixture based on either meat or rice. Certain regions use lettuce or vine leaves and the most common variation is pickled cabbage leaves. Unlike other countries that know and use ‘choucroute’ in Bulgaria the cabbage is pickled and preserved whole, rather than chopped ... this makes it perfect for creating both meat and vegetarian versions of ‘sarmi’ at any time during the year.

Serves 6
1 kg pork (beef) mince
1 whole cabbage

1 large onion
1 cup of rice
Fresh parsley
Chilli powder
Finely chop the onion and fry in a tablespoon of oil until softened. Stir in a teaspoon of paprika and remove from the heat.Stir in the meat, rice, a handful of finely chopped parsley and a pinch of chilli powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover with warm salted water and simmer until the water has been absorbed by the rice. Select around 40-50 large cabbage leaves and dip them in boiling, salted water for around a minute. Place one soup spoon of the pork and rice mixture in the centre of each leaf. Roll the leaf tightly and arrange them in a saucepan (see photograph). Pour over a cup and a half of warm water (or use the water that you dipped the cabbage leaves in earlier) and a drizzle of oil, cover and simmer on a low heat for two hours. Serve hot with vegetables of your choice and a glass of Mavrud ... delicious!